St Margaret’s bells

The earliest mention of bells, according to the Vicar of St Margaret’s (Canon S W Wheatley) writing in 1919, was in an inventory of church goods made during the reign of King Edward VI in the mid-16th century.  Here it was stated that there were five bells, of which one was cracked.  Five Bells Lane, in the eastern part of the parish, harks back to those days.  Over time the number of bells has increased to eight.  The bells currently in use are listed below.

In 1884 a new oak frame was installed by J Warner & Sons of London.  This held the six bells then in use.  In 1896 two more bells – the treble and the second – were installed and were suspended from steel joists above the oak frame.  It was the deteriorating condition of the oak fame which led to the cessation of all ringing in the early 1970s.

Following a successful fund-raising campaign all the bells were lowered in September 2005 by members of the Kent County Association of Change Ringers and were subsequently transported – free of charge – to the Whitechapel Foundry in London, by the local haulage firm of R Swain & Sons Ltd. Once the bells had been removed it was then possible to undertake the heavy and dirty work of cutting out the old wooden frame.

A new steel frame capable of holding all eight bells was delivered to the church on16th January 2006 and the bells themselves, having been cleaned and re-tuned, were returned and re-hung shortly afterwards.  The opportunity was also taken, on expert advice, to relocate the ringing position from the old ringing chamber to the ground floor in order to distance the ringers further from the bells.  The total cost of the restoration project was in excess of £70,000.  The bells were re-dedicated by the Archdeacon of Rochester, the Venerable Peter Lock, on Mothering Sunday, 26th March 2006.

St Margaret’s welcomes all-comers, including those with no experience who would like to try their hand at ringing, and ringers from other towers.  Those from other towers who wish to organise a visit should contact the Tower Secretary on 01634 574703.

The details of our bells are as follows:-

 

Bell                 Diameter       Weight (approx)                  Date               Founder

 

Tenor              3’  4”               11 – 0 – 0                               1884               J Warner & Sons, London

No 7                3’  0”               8 – 1 – 0                                 1624               Joseph Hatch, Ulcombe

No 6                2’  9½             7 – 0 – 0                                 1621               Joseph Hatch, Ulcombe

No 5                2’  7 5/8”         6 – 0 – 0                                 1790               Thomas Mears, Whitechapel

No 4               2’  5½             5 – 1 – 0                                 1884               J Warner, & Sons, London

No 3               2’  4”               4 – 2 – 0                                 1790               Thomas Mears, Whitechapel

No 2               2’  2 3/8”         4 – 0 – 0                                 1896               John Taylor & Co, Loughborough

Treble            2’ 1”                3 – 2 – 0                                 1896               John Taylor, Loughborough

We are a very friendly, social bunch practising at St Margaret’s church on Friday evenings 7:30pm to 9:00pm and ringing for Sunday services and many special events including weddings.  There are also regular opportunities to join us on “Tower Tours” to other churches throughout London and the south east..and on occasion at the Cathedral!

Why not come along to find out if you have a talent that you didn’t know you had!!

Contact the parish office on 01634 848900 or E mail:  office@parishofrochester.org.uk

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Other Events

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Bell Ringing History Lesson

In the Middle Ages, it was believed that the sound of a bell could disperse thunder.[2] A large number of bell-ringers were electrocuted as a result. In France between the years 1753 and 1786, 103 bell-ringers were killed during thunderstorms as a result of holding on to wet bell ropes. The Parlement of Paris enforced an edict in 1786 to forbid the practice.[3] Deaths likely continued until the 19th century, when the lightning rod came into general use.

A bell-ringer is a person who rings, tolls or peals a large bell, usually a church bell, by tugging on a long rope. Since the invention of the carillon, the need for bell ringers has declined. Also some churches have replaced bell-ringing altogether with a loudspeaker that plays bell music from a computer or music player.

History lesson from Wiki (Click Here)